No one knows career ending setbacks like professional athletes and no one knows the uphill battle that is recovering from injury like netballer Paige Hadley.
One of the Australian sport’s most sought-after wing attacks was well on her way to representing Australia in the Commonwealth Games in 2014 when, during training, her knee gave way – and so did her immediate future in the sport.
“It was devastating. I felt like my world had come to an end,” Paige tells Collective Hub. “I couldn’t play netball for a year and I couldn’t train everyday with my best mates.”
As someone who admittedly thrives in a team environment (“I don’t think I could do an individual sport!”), Paige was used to navigating the ins and outs of others.
“To make a team work you have to really find out about people and get to know them and work on that different level. Obviously in every sport you’re going to have those ups and downs,” Paige points out. “It’s challenging and I’ve been in a lot of teams with a lot of different personalities so that’s really made me be really appreciative of who they are and get to know them and make the team work.”
But turning the focus inward and working on herself during her recovery from her severe ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) injury however, was another challenge altogether. As a keen journal entry writer, Paige found this technique particularly helpful.
“My coach Jason made me on camera answer questions every two months,” she says of the one of the more “confronting” therapy methods. “I’d come into this room and I’d answer questions about how my journey is going, where I was up to, what I’m most looking forward to, what am I missing, the struggles I have, the achievements I’ve had even if it was just running and jumping, whatever it was.
Now, looking back on the video, it’s awesome to just hear the raw emotion and the journey I went through, how up and down it was because obviously you think about the end result but it was so much more in the middle of it.”
What was the benefit of recording her journey as it happened, in real time?
“I think sometimes you forget where you have come from,” she explains. “To be able to be there and to be able to watch it and feel the emotion that I was feeling, it’s really special and now I take every training and every training camp, or whatever it is, I don’t take it for granted. It’s really special to be a part of and seeing the journey from where I came from and I love sharing that with people that are growing through it.”
In a starring role as part of Samsung’s Rethink Role Models campaign, Paige is once again bringing her story into the spotlight, creating somewhat of a blueprint for meeting setbacks head on. And despite the tough times, the 24-year-old is adamant that has no regrets about that period.
“For me, it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever been through, but now look at me,” Paige says. “It’s not always going to be rainbows.”